One of the highlights of the Monument Valley adventure is the evening meal on our last night in Monument Valley.

Now it is not like we have a lot of choices in Mexican Hat, Utah. I think there are two places to eat if you don’t count the Shell station. Thankfully, one of the two places to eat in town happens to be, The Mexican Hat Lodge – home of “the swinging steak”.

Be warned, this will not be your usual dining experience.

It really is sort of hard to even call this place a “restaurant”. It is more like eating at a backyard cookout. The place is located outside in between the main lodge building and some sort of storage room and a garage. Part of the area is covered with a tin roof and part of it is covered with a tarp. Some of it is not covered at all. It is mostly dirt floors but there is a small pavestone patio. The front of the place is nothing more than a corral fence. There are a number of wooden picnic tables with wooden benches. The place is lit with a couple of strings of yellow lights like you would see at an old used car lot.

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So how ever unimpressed you are with the d├ęcor and furnishings, you will be infinitely impressed with the “kitchen”. It is the focal point of ambiance as soon as you walk in. It is a tin firebox with two posts on either end. An axle stretches across the two posts and there are wagon wheels at both ends. Attached to the axle are chains that are attached to a large grate on all four corners. The wagon wheels turn the axle which raises and lowers the grate over the firebox. The chains allow the grate to swing back and forth over the firebox.

On that swinging grate are the objects of affection for hungry photographers in search of one of life’s amazing meals: steaks and chicken. The aroma of the logs burning in the firebox and those steaks grilling to perfection is a visual and aromatic symphony. Once you have done your time sitting and watching the hypnotic motion of that swinging grate, you are treated to a meal that will be forever burned into the sweet memories of your mind.

fb9638They don’t waste any time offering diners a lot of choices. You can choose one of 4 steaks or chicken. No need to contemplate which sides you would like…you are going to get beans and salad. No worries about what dressing you want on your salad, either. You get it how they serve it. My first time there, I was a little put off with the lack of options. I have since changed my attitude…but a great meal in a memorable setting with wonderful new friends will do that to you.

It is one of my all-time favorite meals. I bet it will be yours, too.

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